Mothers! Don’t Let Your Children Play Football


Here’s a word for moms.

You have a kid in the house who wants to play football?

You need to give it some serious thought.

Yes, football is pervasive. As American as apple pie, they say. Just a bit ago, as I flipped on the radio to NPR I found myself listening to a story on various grudge matches in college football. Mildly disgusted I turned the radio off then turned the television on to my favorite politically oriented channel, to hear a “debate” between conservative and progressive political activists featuring an extended football metaphor.

We swim in football culture.

Now, in fact I owe football a lot, specifically my first call as a parish minister. I was being interviewed by the pulpit search committee. We were discussing this and that, and then, it certainly seemed, out of the blue I was asked what I thought of football. It was Wisconsin, so it seemed maybe there was some issue hanging in the air. But, as they say, when in doubt, tell the truth. So, I answered honestly. “I think any school that offers football should be denied federal funding.” Usually that got a small smile, from those who picked up on the point. This time it was a roaring laugh. Turned out the person who would be my predecessor played football in college and football was his abiding metaphor. The search committee realized if they presented me to the congregation and I was elected, for the term of my tenure there would be no football metaphors. Got the job.

Football is here. And let’s be frank.

Football is a canker sore on our collective soul.

Its been a while since some liberal friend justified their obsession with football as cathartic. The Richie Incognito scandal gives the lie to that little bit of self-deception. People who act like thugs, act like thugs. They don’t burn it off doing or watching thuggery and then do good things. You sit in a cesspool, well, you get poop all over yourself.

I think the Penn State child sex abuse scandal no coincidence. It shows how profoundly skewed values get in the wild support of the team. Again, sitting in the cesspool, what might you expect? Football is about brutality and brutalizing. Pretty much period.

But, that’s been known for years, at least by those willing to look. But those who point it out have been voices crying in the wilderness.

Now, however, there’s something “new” mothers need to hear.

Here it is…

Football causes brain damage. Google the terms “football” “brain damage” and “science.”

Yes, other sports can be dangerous, as well.

But, football, where its very purpose is as much about inflicting pain on others as moving a ball down a court, makes head crushing contact inevitable.

And the science is irrefutable.

You let your child play football and he (almost always he) is in real danger of suffering brain damage.

Permanent.

Lasting.

Is it really worth it?

Really?

  • cschriner@uuma.org

    Good points, and a post slanted for Dads would also be helpful. They often hope their sons will follow in their cleated footsteps. – Chris Schriner

    • pennyroyal

      One of the things I’m proudest of is that my 6 foot son never played football or went into the military.

  • Brenda Jackson

    Brain damage, and an early death from steroid abuse, which is prevalent in football circles, I understand. Good for you for speaking out.

  • pennyroyal

    There are actually many who despise football and think it a regressive force in the USA, and not just for the escapism. Sam Keen has a short chapter on his moment of revelation of how damaging football culture is in his book Learning to Fly.

  • James Hegarty

    I do a bit of the old neuropsycholgoy myself and my understanding is that there is no valid scientific evidence that American football causes brain damage. That is clear.

    I also believe that banging heads with another, at speed, repeatedly, over a number of years is not good for you, or your brain. However, it should be remembered that the substance abuse that accompanies both amateur and professional sports is, from a scientific perspective much more likely to cause brain damage.


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